About operaramblings

Toronto based lover of opera, art song and related music

A few August things

haliburtonhighlandsl-11040756o__16619.1319322876.1280.1280Out of town, up in bear country, Highlands Opera Studio has shows this month.  Puccini’s Suor Angelica is paired with two short contemporary opera’s; Maria Atallah’s The Chair and Kendra Harder’s Book of Faces.  That’s this coming Thursday.  Then on the 22nd, 24th, 25th and 26th they are doing Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with two different casts.  Full casting and box office information is here.

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That survey

Blu-Ray-Disc-89676So a few weeks ago I asked readers to help me better understand how they viewed opera on video via a short survey.  The results follow though heavily caveated by the fact that only 22 people responded.

Most people use multiple methods to watch video with 86% using Youtube, 82% DVD, 59% Blu-ray, 50% free video streams and 28% subscription streams. but only 14% (not very surprisingly) using 4K video.

The primary method results are more interesting: 45% use the Internet, 54% use some kind of disk.  The former is dominated by Youtube.  On the latter DVD tops Blu-ray 2 to 1.

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Song of the Earth

Last night’s final Koerner Hall event in Toronto Summer Music started off with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major.  It’s a tuneful, well constructed piece which in places riffs off Romany music, hence its nickname “Turkish”.  Jonathan Crow was the soloist with a small orchestra drawn from all the area’s major orchestras plus TSM Fellows.  Gemma New conducted.  It was very satisfying.  The orchestra was excellent and the interplay between solist and orchestra worked very well.  It’s quite a demanding piece for the soloist and I really enjoyed the sound that Jonathan produced.  He plays an instrument with a rather distinctive timbre which worked well here.  I’m curious about the first movement cadenza.  I don’t know the work well enough to knoew what the options are but this one was very virtuosic though sounding distinctly post-Mozartian.

sote1

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Driftwood’s Dream

Driftwood Theatre’s Bard’s Bus Tour touched down at Withrow Park yesterday evening in near perfect conditions for their lightly updated musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  D. Jeremy Smith’s production is cleverly constructed to cover off all the bases with a cast of only eight and with the minimal staging possible for an outdoor touring production.  The updating makes the Mechanicals into Oshawa auto workers.  The music is largely integral; parts of the text being set to music by Kevin Fox and Tom Lillington further adapted and performed by Alison Beckwith with support from various members of the cast.  There are cuts and the whole piece runs about an hour and forty five minutes without an interval.

MusicalMidsummer-photobyDahliaKatz-Ahmed Moneka

Ahmed Moneka as Puck

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Schubert to Mercury to Beethoven

The main stage concert for TSM at Koerner Hall last night was given by the Art of Time Ensemble with vocalists John Southworth and Sarah Slean.  It’s my first encounter with Art of Time have been around for about ten years and specialise in cross genre collaborations inspired by their founder, pianist Andrew Burashko.

TSM July 25-Dale Butterill

Last night was classical meets singer songwriter.  There was an introductory piece by Christos Hatzis, some Schubert, plenty of Gershwin and lashings of Leonard Cohen plus much more (there was no set list and I didn’t take notes).  It’s rather out of my usual zone but I enjoyed.  Southworth is a really quirky vocalist, exemplified by a rather weird version of The Old Folks at Home; which needed to be weird!  Slean is quite a performer; good voice, very funny, great mover.  The ensemble was terrific across the board.  I’m sold.  There are lots of reasons to stretch the boundaries of classical performance.  Larry Beckwith does it very well with his Confluence series.  Here’s another example.

TSM July 25-Photo Dale Butterill

The late show, also at Koerner, featured Jonathan Crow, Katya Poplyansky, Minkyoung Lee and Allison Rich in a performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in B-flat Major Op. 130 but with a twist.  They played the full original version in which the Grosse Fuge Op. 133 forms the finale.  So, basically, an hour long string quartet!  It was very well done though I confess late Beethoven at 10.30 pm was straining the grey matter.

Photo credit: Dale Butteril

Collectìf – Beyond Perception

Collectìf’s latest show for the Toronto Summer Music Festival at Walter Hall last night was called Beyond Perception: What Haunts Us Now.  It presented three new multimedia works each curated and directed by one of the trio of singers.  The first piece, by Whitney O’Hearne featured arrangements of French works; both folk and classical that deal with the idea of La Dame Blanche; by turns sorceress or virgin bride.  Turning the idea of male defined female transgression upside down to celebrate women’s agency, O’Hearn combined arrangements of the chosen music for combinations of three voices and piano with soft focus atmospheric video rather reminiscent of Collectìf’s Winterreise show at Heliconian Hall.  The singing was beautiful and the concept intriguing.  Top notch accompaniment by Trevor Chartrand.

DSCF0267-Gord Fulton

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